To understand how food is produced and imported to the UK, six young Brits, three men and three women, travelled to south east Asia to live and work with the people who produce the food that they daily consume in the UK. In the two previous episodes, they had had to work in remote areas of Indonesia in the tuna and prawn industry respectively. In their latest journey the Brits had to go to the rural area of Isan, the northeast region of Thailand, to live and work with the locals and earn a living as the Isan people do.
To do this, they had to rent a house and work in the rice field as the local workers do to earn money for the rent and food. They had to plant rice all day to earn their wage. On the first day they did not do very well. The owner of the rice field had to ask Thai workers to help them out. Because of this, the Brits were given only half of the wage that they were supposed to get. On the second day, despite the struggle and moaning, they eventually did well and received their full pay. When the summer arrived there was no work for them in the rice field. Like the Thai locals, the Brits had to find other work to do to get money to pay for food and rent. They went to work in a mill. As they were not used to the working conditions, as usual, drama arose. Only one guy, a British farmer, never complained about anything. He just got on with the job. He even did the work that a couple of the Brits could not do. At the end of the day, even though they did not finish by the deadline, the owner of the mill decided not to pay them less than he had promised them. They earned the full 750 baht, hence they had enough money to feed themselves and pay the rent.
When the rice season finished, they had no work to do. One again, they had to find other ways to support themselves. Because they did not have enough money left, they could not afford to buy food. The Thai neighbours even gave them a chicken, but they had to catch it and kill it first. There was no choice for the Brits except to travel to Bangkok to find alternative work, just like the Isan people do. They thought they would encounter better conditions. Instead, they ended up living in Khlongtoei, Bangkok’s largest slum. The final part of their journey is broadcast next week on BBC Three, in Blood, Sweat and Takeaways, in the poorest area of Bangkok and they will have to work as Thai migrant workers do.